Driver Consistency and Badoer – Europe

This will be a short post as I covered a lot of the race in detail in my special post on whether Barrichello was Fast or Fortunate.  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should because I think it is a good summary of the race action.

Anyway, let’s get right to it then.  As usual, here is a graph of the average lap times and standard deviation spread for the European GP:


(By the way, if you need more info on my calculation methods then please refer to my post on Driver Consistency Explained)

What does this graph tell us?  As usual, the average lap time increases the further we move down the order.  Also, if you have a mechanical problem, your slowing down laps leading to your retirement really increase your average!  Finally, while not last, Badoer’s average lap time is three seconds a lap slower than Barrichello (The race winner), almost two seconds a lap slower than his team mate Raikkonen and almost a second or two seconds slower than Alguersuari and Grosjean.

A fairer way of measuring Driver Consistency is to remove the laps where pit stops were made, any laps containing mechanical problems and also any safety car/penalty laps (I’m looking at you, Badoer!).  So here is the graph:


Now things are a little bit more interesting.  As mentioned in my previous post, Hamilton has a slightly faster average lap time but this may be because Barrichello decided not to push the car once he knew he had won the race.  Rosberg just pips Kovalainen, Glock moves up the order as he set some fast times near the end, Vettel and Grosjean improve by a couple of places (while Nakajima and Buemi, the other retirees do not) and Fisichella moves down the grid as he was running a one-stop pit strategy.

But the main focus for me must be how poor Badoer is.  Again, he is over three seconds slower on average than Barrichello and two seconds slower than Raikkonen.

In fact, the gap between himself and Raikkonen is greater than that of the race winner (Barrichello) to 19th (Buemi).  Now, I know he wasn’t allowed to test the car beforehand and he has had no race experience for something like ten years, but it was a very poor performance and I don’t think Ferrari should have put him in a situation like this where he was seemingly doomed to fail…

If we study Badoer’s individual lap times compared to the other drivers, it becomes even more revealing how badly he did:


Here is the same graph again, zoomed in on the racing laps:


It’s a bit messy, but we can see that Badoer is consistently slower than all the other drivers except for Alguersuari, who had probably never driven the circuit before.  Grosjean (the other rookie) does significantly better than both of them after he pits to replace a damaged wing around lap 9.

But in F1, they say that the first person you have to beat is your team mate, so here are the same two graphs again, but with just Badoer and Raikkonen:


…And zoomed in:

BAD-RAI Laps Zoom

What is shocking here is that Badoer seems to completely lose it after his first pit stop, where he gave way to Grosjean behind him and crossed the white line, incurring a drive through penalty.  But if you look at his second stint, his lap times vary by up to Four Seconds Per Lap! Now, I know he would have been lapped a few times during the race, but there’s no way you would have to yield that much to let a car past?  For example, Grosjean gets lapped on Lap 12 but only loses a second of time on that lap.

Clearly Badoer was having major issues with the car and did spin off a few times during this stint.  By contrast, Raikkonen’s race is very different.  He drives super consistently over the whole race, almost as consistent as Barrichello, which is very impressive!

One final point, I have noticed a few comments on the web defending Badoer which I would like to address:

“Well, Badoer improved by three seconds a lap over the course of the race so he can’t be that bad…”

Look closely at the graph with all the drivers and you will see that they all improved by the same amount.  In fact, when you look at the final graph, Badoer is 1.5 seconds slower than Raikkonen at the beginning and the end of the race.  The only time he gets closer is after Raikkonen pits and has a heavier car.

“Badoer’s best lap was 103% of the winner’s best lap – far below the old 107% cut off that they used to enforce for qualifying…”

This got me thinking … what has been the gap across the field for each race this season?  Here’s what it looks like, with an added data set of the gap between the two Ferraris and the Ferrari Gap to pole:

Gap to pole 2009 ( Fer Gap BAD analysis all)

Gap to pole 2009 ( Fer Gap pole)

Gap to pole 2009 ( Fer diff)

Note: where the Ferraris did not both qualify in Q3 I have taken the best times from the last session where both Ferraris participated.

Ignoring the fact that being three seconds a lap on average slower than Barrichello (which implies his average speed was just over 103% of Barrichello), the fact that Badoer’s time was a whole percentage point than the second to last guy (Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso) is very telling.  Although he did not have the worst percentage difference over the whole season, it is his gap to 19th (Alguersuari) which is bad – a whole percentage point, or 1.5 Seconds!

It is worth noting that the honour of worst performance in qualifying this year goes to Fisichella in a Force India… but this was in Spain, with a massively underdeveloped car.  The Ferrari in Valencia has been proven to be competitive – in fact, Raikkonen finished in third place.

If you look at the gap between the Ferrari’s it is often very small – the largest was 1% in Spain – yet Badoer is 2.5% slower than Raikkonen (about 2.5 Seconds).  If Badoer had equalled Massa’s worst qualifying performance relative to Raikkonen (Spain), then allowing for fuel corrected times he could have set a fuel-corrected qualifying lap of 1:39.831 which could have put him in the top 10 or just outside of it.

What this means is that the idea that Badoer’s time falls within a long-outdated method of measuring if a driver was worthy of starting a race may not justify his performance, because he was clearly a lot slower than expected of a Ferrari driver.  What amazes me most is that Ferrari must have tons more data than I have to analyse Badoer’s woeful performance – yet they insist on giving him a seat for Belgium!

I reckon Ferrari should have never hired him in the first place – he was never going to be ready and I think they should save face and get another driver for the rest of the season.  Do you agree?  Who would you pick?  Or have I been too harsh on the poor guy?

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4 thoughts on “Driver Consistency and Badoer – Europe

  1. Fantastic analysis, looking at the graphs now it is striking how bad Badoer was. As for Belgium well I don’t think with a weeks notice they could have replaced him in time and it is a track he knows better so may as well stick with it a week and see how that goes even if a massive jump in performance (which he needs) is highly unlikely.
    His whole weekend was summed up by him crashing in parc ferme.
    He’ll most likely be gone by Monza, they could never have that quality in front of the tifosi!
    Maybe use Italians Fisi or Trulli …
    Also with the graphs it’s great how on some can see the difference between the actual f1 rookies Grosjean and Alguesari.

  2. They need to put someone else in the car, there are any number of guys available:

    Michael Schumacher’s cleaning lady

  3. It’s clear that you set lock on BAD and put him out in tinny pieces. The truth is that Ferrari made a terrible mistaque putting him in the seat of the F60. I wonder what would have happen if Shumi had return…but that will never happen right?
    Imagine that the poor guy ( Badoer) does it again and finish at the back. The damage of image this guy is putting on the SF is terrible. It shows the lack of planning of what is suposed to be one of the best teams ever!!!
    I say : let’s get this sucker out of the races and leave him testing road cars.
    There are alot of young drivers out there in GP2 more than willing to get a seat in F1

    Superb analysis; I was glad to read the comparo with Kimi that wasn’t included Barrichello-Hamilton analysis.
    Keep up the nice work you do. Looking fwd to read the next.

  4. Pingback: 2009 In Review – Driver Consistency « Making Up The Numbers

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